Seniors can personalize gift

This year’s Senior Class Gift Committee wants to transform the way GW seniors give back to the University.

The Class of 2009 will be given the option to donate their portion of the class gift to whichever part of the University that has been the most significant to them, said senior David Anderson, this year’s senior class gift coordinator.

Anderson, a senior, said he wants the donation to have a “more direct impact on the student society.”

The 2008 senior class gift committee – which raised an unprecedented $36,628 – collected from one-fourth of the graduating class, but Anderson said he hopes to break this record and have one-third of his class contribute. Touting the slogan “We’re kind of a big deal,” Anderson said he hopes the personalized donation process will encourage more seniors to contribute.

“Participation is key,” Anderson said. “It’s not as much about the amount we raise but instead the number of seniors that participate. They can give to their student organization, sports team, academic school, the President’s Fund for Excellence or to scholarships for GW students.”

Only 11 percent of graduates currently give back to the University, a figure administrators hope to increase to fulfill their goal of bringing donations for financial aid from $10 to $40 million over the next five years.

“By doing this, we hope to teach the value and importance of philanthropy,” said Zach Briton, assistant director of young alumni and student giving. “So that a current senior who designates their gift to their own student organization can immediately see the impact of his or her gift and realize why their support is necessary in the future.”

The money donated by each senior will be matched dollar to dollar by two alumni, 1977 graduate Alan Lafer and 1992 graduate Laurie Lowe.

“It is important for students to learn being at the University is being a part of a family, and they need to give back to the family,” Lafer said.

Lafer and Lowe are also the co-chairs of the Luther Rice Society, an alumni recognition group whose members are alumni who have made gifts of $1,000 to $24,999 in one fiscal year or recent graduates who have contributed $250 to $999. Lafer said he hopes this year’s senior class gift idea will encourage more giving.

“The idea is to get people involved,” Lafer said. “We hope to leave a mushrooming effect so that seniors are involved in the University and viewed and watched so other students are encouraged with the idea.”

The gift committee and alumni officials hope they will set a precedent for future classes.

“I want the class of 2009 to be an example for future GW classes and to our alumni community,” Briton said. “If the Class of 2009 can reach 33 percent participation, or one in every three seniors participating, it would send a great message to our alumni saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you join us in making sure that future GW students have as good, if not better, of an experience as we had.’ “

The Luther Rice Society hopes to increase this number by showing that “the University should be alive and well in ongoing life.”

Lafer said, “We want to let students know there is an active body (of alumni) for networking and mentoring.”

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